Greetings from Appleton

I’m in beautiful Appleton for the Democratic Party of Wisconson convention. The Dems are in a feisty mood in spite of the big disappointment this week. You may have heard about it.

Expect much of the focus to be on U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s bid to be Senator Herb Kohl’s successor. Baldwin, a liberal Madison native, would seem to be ill-favored to defeat a GOP candidate who will have to pass muster with the Tea Party, but she’s a savvy campaigner. Competing for a crack at Baldwin are millionaire businessman Eric Hovde, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, former congressman Mark Neumann, and former governor Tommy Thompson.

I walked into the convention venue just as DPW communications director telling a reporter how painful it is to watch Tommy’s metamorphasis from a mere conservative to the type of conservative who’ll meet with Tea Party approval. Oh, and I predict Tea Party will likely be the favorite pejorative this weekend.

There’s a Democratic primary for a shot at the House seat being vacated by Baldwin, with either state Rep. Mark Pocan, state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, or Dennis Hall (whose banner just fell off the wall and was quickly put back up) a virtual shoe-in come November. Former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow wants another crack at Rep.Sean Duffy in the 7th District, which is cosiderably more red this time around, thanks to Republican-supervised redistricting.

Rob Zerban is the Democrat who looks to take on Tea Party potentate, Rep. Paul Ryan. Joe Kallas is campaigning to face veteran GOP Rep. Tom Petri, and Jamie Wall is lining up to challenge Reid Ribble.

Appleton really is a lovely town, the sort of place I’d like to    spend more time exploring. It’s the boyhood home of Harry   Houdini and home to Lawrence University, which is holding commencement this weekend. And, all the streets downtown are two-way, which makes it about a million times easier to navigate than downtown Madison.

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